Six more weeks of winter, according to Punxsutawney Phil, means the chance of more snow days keeping little ones home and housebound. How can you keep them busy and keep yourself sane all day? If you’re Erin Petura, it all comes down to planning and scheduling.

The mom of four (her youngest son was born this past November) is a former teacher for fourth and second grades. When she is faced with the prospect of a snow day, Petura begins planning the night before.

“I generally pick a theme and stick with it,” she says. “It can be anything from ‘Frozen’ to Love, etc.” Petura will grab books off her shelf that relate to the theme, and peruse Pinterest for craft and activity ideas. Then she writes out a plan for the day.

“I split the day in two — I joke that it is the first shift and the second shift,” she says. “I try to include two major crafts (one for the morning and one for after naps), one library time (with the books I pulled), snack time, free play (this is a must!!), some sort of coloring time (this is not considered the big craft), something to get energy out (dance party time, freeze dance, or just plain old ‘run’ time).”

A recent snow day schedule she created ran like this:

9:00- Craft Heart Butterflies with toilet paper rolls
10:00- Snack
10:30- Free Play
11:00- Clean up
11:15- Dancing time
12:00- Lunch
12:30- Library time
1:00- Nap
3:00- Snack
3:30- Craft Stained Glass hearts with wax paper and crayons
4:30- Clean up
4:45- Free play (time to make dinner!)

Petura allows for flexibility in the schedule and follows her kids’ leads with respect to activities they are engaged in, nap schedules, and desire for free play, but says a basic plan keeps the whole family aligned.

“As soon as I know a snow day could happen, I plan. And the next day is generally fight free because of it,” Petura jokes. She also keeps her kids on a structured routine even on non-snow days.

“I am huge on schedules and consistency,” she says. “My kids have a set schedule with little room to bend.  I feel like they thrive knowing what comes next.” She often posts tentative schedules on the wall for her kids to review and check-off activities when they are completed. The predictability keeps the kids on track and keeps Petura’s sanity intact, she says.

And since there’s no sign of the seasonal weather letting up anytime soon, following Erin’s tips will help the rest of us stay sane until springtime too!

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Andrea Fereshteh has been writing for as long as she can remember. An avid journal-keeper as a child, she dabbled in dramatic notes to her parents and designed her own stationary. With a zest for small talk and meeting new people, she pursued journalism in college and worked for nine years in PR, writing and media relations for the higher ed and nonprofit sectors. She has a mousters and ducktorate from Disney University and is a mother to two lively boys who inspire her to just keep writing, just keep writing.